Supracolloidal reconfigurable polyhedra via hierarchical self-assembly

Daniel Morphew, Dwaipayan Chakrabarti*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
177 Downloads (Pure)


Enclosed three-dimensional structures with hollow interiors have been attractive targets for the self-assembly of building blocks across different length scales. Colloidal self-assembly, in particular, has enormous potential as a bottom-up means of structure fabrication exploiting a priori designed building blocks because of the scope for tuning interparticle interactions. Here we use computer simulation study to demonstrate the self-assembly of designer charge-stabilised colloidal magnetic particles into a series of supracolloidal polyhedra, each displaying a remarkable two-level structural hierarchy. The parameter space for design supports thermodynamically stable polyhedra of very different morphologies, namely tubular and hollow spheroidal structures, involving the formation of subunits of four-fold and three-fold rotational symmetry, respectively. The spheroidal polyhedra are chiral, despite having a high degree of rotational symmetry. The dominant pathways for self-assembly into these polyhedra reveal two distinct mechanisms-a growth mechanism via sequential attachment of the subunits for a tubular structure and a staged or hierarchical pathway for a spheroidal polyhedron. These supracolloidal architectures open up in response to an external magnetic field. Our results suggest design rules for synthetic reconfigurable containers at the microscale exploiting a hierarchical self-assembly scheme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9633-9640
Number of pages8
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number48
Early online date18 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2016


  • Self-Assembly
  • hierarchical design
  • Colloids
  • Computer Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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